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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath
Now according to R. Akiba, in respect of what law is it likened to a niddah? [only] in respect of carriage! Then let it be likened to nebelah? — That indeed is so, but [the analogy with niddah, rather, teaches: just as niddah is not a source of contamination] through her [separate] limbs, so is an idol not [a source of contamination] through its limbs. Then when R. Hama b. Guria asked: 'Does the law of an idol operate in respect of its limbs or not?'solve it for him from this, according to both the Rabbis and R. Akiba, that it does not operate in respect of its limbs? — R. Hama b. Guria learns this as Rabbah, and asked it on R. Akiba's view.
An objection is raised: An idol is like a [creeping thing] sherez and its service utensils are like a sherez; R. Akiba maintained: An idol is like a niddah, and its service utensils are like a sherez. Now, according to R. Eleazar, it is well; but on Rabbah's view, it is a difficulty? — Rabbah answers you: Is it stronger than the Mishnah, which states, 'The stones, timber and earth thereof defile like a sherez,' and we explained, What is meant by 'like a sherez?' That it does not defile through a cavity-closing stone: here too it means that it does not defile through a cavity-closing stone.
An objection is raised: A heathen man or woman, an idol and its service utensils, they themselves [defile] but not their motion [hesset];1 R. Akiba maintained: They and their hesset. Now, as for R. Eleazar, it is well;2 but on Rabbah's view it is a difficulty? — Rabbah answers you: And [even] on your view, [can you say of] a heathen man and woman too, they but not their motion [hesset], — surely it was taught: Speak unto the children of Israel [... when any man hath an issue out of his flesh, etc.]:3 the children of Israel defile through gonorrhoea, but heathens do not defile through gonorrhoea, but they [the Rabbis] decreed concerning them that they rank as zabin in all respects.4 But Rabbah answers [the difficulty] according to his view, [Thus:] A heathen man or woman: they themselves, their motion [hesset], and their cavity-closing stone [all defile]; an idol: it and its motion [hesset], but not its cavity-closing stone; R. Akiba maintains: An idol: it, its hesset and its cavity-closing stone [defile]. Whilst R. Eleazar interprets it in accordance with his view: A heathen man or woman: they themselves, their motion [hesset], and their cavity-closing stone [defile]; an idol: it, but not its motion [hesset]. Whilst R. Akiba maintains: An idol: it and its motion [defile].5
R. Ashi objected thereto: [If so,] what is [the meaning of] they themselves'?6 — Rather said R. Ashi: This is the meaning: In the case of a heathen man or woman, whether they move others7 or others move them,8 [these others] are unclean.9 If idol moves others, they are clean;10 if others move it,11 they are unclean. [As for] its service utensils, whether they move others or others move them, [these others] are clean. R. Akiba maintained: In the case of a heathen man or woman and an idol, whether they move others or others move them, [these others', are unclean; as for its service utensils, whether they move others or others move them, they are clean.
[In the case of] an idol, as for others moving it, that is well, [for] it is possible; but how is it conceivable for it to move others? Said Rami son of R. Yeba, Even as we learnt: If a zab is on one pan of the scales, and foodstuffs or drinks are in the other pan and the zab outweighs them, they are unclean,12
if they out weigh [him], they are clean.1
With whom does that which was taught agree, [viz.,]: [As for] all unclean things which move [others], they [the things moved] are clean, save [in the case of] moving by a zab, for which no analogy2 is found in the whole Torah. Shall we say that this is not according to R. Akiba, for if according to R. Akiba, there is an idol too? — You may even say that it agrees with R. Akiba: He states zab and all that is like thereto.3
R. Hama b. Guria asked: Does the law of an idol operate in respect to its limbs or not?4 Now, where an unskilled person can replace it [the limb in the idol], there is no question, for it is as though [already] joined [thereto]. When does the question arise? If an unskilled person cannot replace it, what [then]? Since an unskilled person cannot replace it, it is as broken;5 or perhaps it is actually not defective?6 Some there are who put the question in the reverse direction: Where an unskilled person cannot replace it, there is no question, for it is as broken. When does the question is if an unskilled person can replace it: what [then]? Since an unskilled person can replace it, it is as though [already] joined [thereto]; or perhaps now it is nevertheless disjoined and loose [separate]? — The question stands over.
R. Ahedbuy b. Ammi asked: What of an idol less than an olive in size? R. Joseph demurred to this: In respect of what [does he ask]? Shall we say, in respect of the interdict?7 — let it be no more than the fly [zebub] of Baal Ekron,8 for it was taught: And they made Baal-berith their God:9 this refers to the fly-god of Baal Ekron. It teaches that everyone made a likeness of his idol10 and put it in his bag: whenever he thought of it he took it out of his bag and embraced and kissed it!11 But [the question is] in respect of uncleanness: what [is the law]? since it is assimilated to sherez12 then just as sherez [defiles] by the size of a lentil,13 so an idol too [defiles] by the size of a lentil; or perhaps it is [also] likened to a corpse:10 just as a corpse [defiles] by the size of an olive,14 so does an idol [defile] by the size of an olive? — Said R. Awia — others state, Rabbah b. 'Ulla-Come and hear: For it was taught: An idol less than an olive in size has no uncleanness at all, for it is said, And he cast the powder thereof [sc. of the idol] upon the graves of the children of the people:15 just as a corpse [defiles] by the size of an olive, so does an idol [defile] by the size of an olive.
Now, according to the Rabbis, in respect of what law is it [an idol] likened to sherez? — that it does not defile by carriage; to a niddah? — that it is not [a source of contamination] through its [separate] limbs; [and] to a corpse? — that it does not defile by the size of a lentil!16 [Why?] Interpret it rather stringently: In respect of what law does the Divine Law liken it to a sherez? that it defiles by the size of a lentil; to a niddah? that it defiles through a cavity-closing stone; [while] the Divine Law assimilates it to a corpse, [teaching] that it defiles under the law of a covering?17 The uncleanness of an idol is [only] by Rabbinical law: [consequently,] where there are lenient and stringent [analogies], we draw a lenient analogy, but do not draw a stringent analogy.18
GEMARA. Now, it is obvious that a ship is in the midst of the sea, but we are informed this: just as the sea is clean, so is a ship clean. It was taught: Hananiah said: We learn it from a sack:21 just as a sack can be carried both full and empty, so must everything [which is to be susceptible to defilement] be possible to be carried both full and empty, thus excluding a ship, seeing that it cannot be carried full and empty.22 Wherein do they differ? — They differ in respect to an earthen ship: he who quotes, 'a ship in the midst of the sea', [holds that] this too is in the midst of the sea. But as for him who maintains that it must be like a sack: only those [vessels] that are mentioned in conjunction with a sack23 if they can be carried full and empty, are [susceptible to uncleanness], if not, they are not [susceptible]; but an earthen ship, even if it cannot be carried full and empty, [is still susceptible to defilement]. Alternatively, [they differ in respect to] a boat of the Jordan:24 he who quotes, 'a ship in the midst of the sea', [holds that] this too is a ship in the midst of the sea;25 but as for him who requires that it be carried full and empty, this too is carried full and empty, for R. Hanina b. Akiba said: Why was it ruled that a Jordan boat is unclean? Because it is loaded on dry land and [then] lowered into the water.
Rab Judah said in Rab's name: One should never abstain from [attendance at] the Beth Hamidrash even for a single hour, for lo! how many years was this Mishnah learnt in the Beth Hamidrash without its reason being revealed, until R. Hanina b. Akiba came and elucidated it. R. Jonathan said: One should never abstain from the Beth Hamidrash and from Torah, even in the hour of death, for it is said, This is the Torah, when a man dieth in a tent:26 even in the hour of death one should be engaged in [the study of] the Torah.27 Resh Lakish said: The words of the Torah can endure only with him who sacrifices28 himself for it, as it is said, This is the Torah, when a man dieth in a tent.29
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